Over 7 million children are refugees

More than half the world's refugees are children under 18 years of age, according to estimates based on a survey by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Although the number of child refugees worldwide has declined from a record 10.2 million in 1993, at 7.4 million it is still greater than the entire population of Switzerland. 

Of a total 13.2 million refugees, the greatest number, 2.7 million, have fled Afghanistan. Bosnia and Herzegovina is the home country of the second highest number, 1 million. 

Iran is sheltering the largest number of refugees, with 2 million people from Afghanistan and Iraq. Pakistan, the second-ranking country of asylum, currently has 1.2 million refugees from Afghanistan. 

Refugees—those crossing national borders to seek safety—represent about one third of the total number of people uprooted by conflicts or persecution. UNHCR estimates that the remaining two thirds, more than 30 million people, are displaced within their own countries. If the proportion of children among the internally displaced is similar to that among refugees, then the combined total of uprooted children worldwide is over 20 million. The internally displaced face many of the same hardships as refugees but are often cut off from assistance from relief organizations.

Note: Children (aged 0-7) comprise 56% of total refugee population, extrapolated form demographic data on sample of 4 million refugees.

Source: UNCHCR, UNHCR at a Glance, February 1997, and UNHCR, The State of the World's Refugees, 1995.

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